Magical Molokini in Hawaii
Just off the coast of the beautiful Hawaii is a destination of magnificence and tranquility, linked to a legend that is still told today. The goddess of fire, Pele, and a woman by the name of Molokini were in love, but their love was for the same man. Pele, enraged by having such beautiful competition, decapitated Molokini and turned her into stone. According to legend, Pu’u Olai is what remained of Molokini, her head cast to stone. Near the islands of Kaho’olwe and Maui, however, Molokini is a volcanic crater that has been submerged, and the most popular attraction in Hawaii.
Molokini is a crescent shaped crater, as only part of the crater is above the water. It is a Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary, but it offers more than just bird life. Its crystal waters that are protected from the currents and waves, has seen to it that Molokini is listed as one of the top ten destinations in the world for scuba diving, snorkeling and snuba tours. For those not familiar with snuba, it closely resembles scuba diving, with the visitor wearing a weight belt, diving regulator, mask and fins, but instead of having tanks for oxygen they are connected to the tanks on the pontoons of the raft with air hoses. All snuba visitors are escorted by a guide at all times. Molokini is known to have some of the most spectacular reefs ever seen and only experienced divers venture out around the side of the cliffs. The visibility is so extraordinary that underwater explorers will be able to see forty-six meters deep. It is home to approximately two hundred and fifty fish species. As boats increased their visits to Molokini, mooring buoys were erected as it was feared that all the boats dropping anchor would damage the reef.
The Molokini islet became a protected area in 1977, being acknowledged as a Marine Life Conservation District. Tours to Molokini depart from the Kihei Boat Ramp and from the Ma’alaea Harbor and those visiting the islet can look forward to seeing nesting seabirds from the boats, as no-one is allowed to entry to the land without authorization. Birds that can be spotted include Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters and Bulwer’s Petrels. The waters hold approximately thirty-eight hard coral species and fish that are commonly seen include the Bluefin Trevally, Moorish Idol, Black Tiggerfish, Parrotfish and the occasional Moray Eel and Whitetip Reef Shark. An underwater paradise waits at Molokini islet.
Thumbnail image by Forest & Kim Starr